Annotated E-Mail Template For Responding To Male Colleagues Who Want You To Do Their Work

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[Always go with “Hi” and the exclamation point; it makes you look friendly and overly eager, which will be disorienting since you’re not going to help.]

[I know this sentence looks over-the-top, but men never question it, and placing it early in the e-mail will leave him with the impression that you’ve helped him even though you’re not going to — in the end he’ll think you helped, somehow.]

[Say this no matter how simple the task; men hate to be bothered with the details they’re asking you to assume, and they think women are easily overwhelmed.]

[Next, ask a series of multi-part questions that require both responses and actions *from him* before you can proceed. Go for length and complexity — insert non-essential clauses, beg for clarity, layer on tangentially-related tasks, etc. Here’s an example in which I respond to Cody’s request to help him plan a retirement party for his boss.]

[95% of the time, this will end the exchange. Cody is lazy and won’t want to confront this wall of text, let alone do what you suggest. On the off-chance he persists, you may need to take things further. This next maneuver requires you to craft a little trifecta of things that men like Cody hate: appearing clingy, sharing pointless details about your life, and requiring him to do something on his own. Here’s an example]:

[Another excellent deterrent is to get super critical and to talk about your feelings a LOT. Here’s an example]:

[If he’s still with you, it’s time for the magic bullet: ask him to “collate” something (don’t worry about whether that makes sense; it doesn’t have to). I’m not sure why, but the word “collate” shuts men down — I don’t think they know what it means.]

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English professor and humor writer based in Green Bay. McSweeney’s, Points in Case, HuffPost, Slackjaw, Little Old Lady Comedy, Human Parts, others.

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